Ireland Battle hard in Lisburn

All three Irish players, Ashley Robinson, Owen Cathcart and Paul McCreery were from Ulster, under the guidance of National Coach John Murphy, with Alexander Gillen and Gavin Maguire (Leinster) in reserve from the sidelines. The Ulster trio did not fail to entertain and quickly gained the vocal support of the larger band of spectators, including many friends and family.

Lisburn and Castlereagh City Council supported the event, and this was generously expressed by Deputy Mayor Hazel Legge who spoke eloquently about the value of sport to communities and the urban development. Alderman Allan Ewart presented the Lithuanian Coach Arturas Orlovas with a momento of his visit to Lisburn.

The night belonged to the Lithuanian team who ran out 3-0 winners, despite all of the encounters being hard fought and providing a vast array of talents and excellence. This Easter European side started out as favourites with a superior Euro Team Ranking, 7 places above Ireland, and two of their players having top 200 world rankings.

Tomas Mikutis was their top player and won a tantalising encounter with Irish champion Paul McCreery (Saintfield) using his exquisi8te defensive skills against attacker McCreery.

Much was expected from Owen Cathcart, the World Junior Circuit winner at aged 15 years from Belfast, and he did not disappoint building up winning leads on 2 sets against Madadras Stankevicius before losing out, and the well-informed crowd put it down to  ‘more experience will help!’

Ashley Robinson (Clogher) kicked off the match rather nervously and fought back with composure but gave in at the end to Alfredus Udra.

The Ulster Quartet of McCreery, Robinson, Cathcart and Zak Wilson (Newtownabbey) jet off to the Commonwealth Games in the Gold Coast with high hopes despite this bruising encounter with Lithuania, and John Murphy will again be the coach guru who has been so instrumental in Ireland and Ulster progressing rapidly up the international Ladder.

The support of the Lisburn Crowd was adequately expressed by two Presidents, Ken Strong (Ireland) and Pat Hunter (Ulster) at the conclusion of this LCCC supported event, as the GC18 side was given a rapturous send off.

Lisburn & Castlereagh City Council’s Deputy Mayor, Cllr Hazel Legge and Chairman of the Council’s Development Committee, Ald Allan Ewart MBE present a Council crest to the Lithuanian Coach, Arturas Orlovas. Also pictured are the winning Lithuanian team, the President of Table Tennis Ireland Ken Strong and Cllr Brian Harvey.